Toshiba Ships Easy Internet Server Appliance Magnia SG10 offers browser-based setup and offsite services for simpler operation. - Tom Mainelli, PCWorld.com
If you can operate a PC and Web browser, than you can set up your own small business or home office server, according to Toshiba. Of course, the server Toshiba has in mind is the Magnia SG10 server appliance, shipping Monday.
"We wanted it to be very easy, so anyone could install it," says Brian Foster, senior product manager at Toshiba. "Just let Toshiba be the IT expert."
The silver and black Magnia SG10 acts as the small office uber-server, offering everything from printer and file sharing to shared Internet access, e-mail services, and more. Setup is as simple as connecting a PC, running the installation CD, and using the browser interface to enter simple instructions. Total expected setup time: 15 minutes, according to Toshiba.
Toshiba announced plans for the Magnia SG10 at Comdex Fall 2000, and alluded to its proposed features while offering few actual details. Among the details now in is a starting price of $1289.
Powering the Magnia SG10 is a 350-MHz Advanced Micro Devices K6-2E, 512K internal level 2 cache, 64MB of PC-100 SDRAM, and the Red Hat Linux version 6.1. Prices vary by storage amount. The $1289 unit has a single 10GB hard drive; a unit with two 10GB drives sells for $1499. The Magnia SG10 with a single 20GB hard drive sells for $1499; the one with two 20GB drives costs $1799.
Each unit also includes a seven-port switch, an uplink port (for connecting to an existing network), a built-in firewall, a 56-kilobits-per-second modem (in case your broadband goes down), intranet with templates, and support for e-mail services.
Outside Help Avaialble
When Foster says Toshiba will act as the Magnia SG10's tech department, he's not kidding. If something goes wrong with the unit while it is connected to the Internet, the device automatically notifies Toshiba of the problem and the company contacts the customer.
For example, if one of the server's multiple cooling fans starts to slow down, Toshiba will know. Since the Magnia SG10 is largely a sealed box, Toshiba would send a whole new replacement unit, Foster says.
Upon receiving the unit, you remove the lid, than the hard drive (no tools required). You put the hard drive into the new unit, fire it up, and are back in business, he says.
The Health Monitoring Service is free for 30 days; the company charges $99 annually after that. The standard warranty is one year; $79 buys an additional year and $249 buys an on-site warranty.
The Health Monitoring Service is one of the services intended to make the Magnia SG10 easier to handle for small companies that are more interested in running their business than running a server, Foster says.
Additional fee-based services available from Toshiba and its partners include Internet backup, Web hosting and domain registration, e-mail hosting, and online video training.
While Toshiba encourages Magnia SG10 customers to use its own and partner services such as the Internet backup service (provided through Ibackup.com) and its e-mail service (from Usa.net), the company doesn't insist.
"You don't have to use our suggested services," Foster says. "We'll work with you."
Small Servers an Emerging Market
According to Dataquest, the multifunction server appliance market will grow from 30,000 units in 1999 to more than 720,000 units in 2004. The research firm predicts spending on the devices to grow from $49 million in 1999 to $930 million by 2004.
The total server appliance market will grow at an astounding 68 percent from 1999 to 2004, for total sales in 2004 of $13.9 billion, according to Gartner. That means unit shipments will grow from 133,500 units in 1999 to 2.77 million by 2004.